Comte de Barras

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A French Jacobin, born in Province, in 1755, of an ancient family; served as second lieutenant in the regiment of Languedoc until 1775. He made, about this time, a voyage to the Isle-de-France, the governor of which was one of his relations, and entered into the garrison of Pondicherry. On his return, he gave himself up to gambling and women, and dissipated his fortune. The Revolution broke out. He immediately showed himself an opponent of the Court, and had a seat in the tiers-etat, while his brother was sitting in that of the nobility. July 14, 1789, he took part in the attack upon the Bastille, and Aug. 10, 1792, upon the Tuileries. In 1792 he was elected a member of the National Convention, and voted for the unconditional death of Louis XVI. He was sent, in 1793, to the South of France, and commanded the left wing of the besieging army under Dugommier, and it was here that he first met Napoleon Bonaparte, then captain of artillery. The patriotic reputation of Barras was so well established that he abd Freron were the only representatives not denounced by the popular societies. Robespierre, however, was friend of his, and often wished to arrest him. Barras, knowing this, became one of the principle actors of the 9th Thermidor, and put himself at the head of the troops which surrounded Robespierre at the Hotel de Ville. In 1794 he was named one of the Committee of Public Safety, and became a great enemy to the members of the members of the “Mountain.” In February, 1795, he was elected President of the Convention, and, in that capacity, declared Paris in a state of siege, when the Assembly was attacked by the populace. Afterward, when the Convention was assailed, Bonaparte, by Barras’ advice, was appointed to command the artillery; and that general, on the 13th Vendemaire, decisively repressed the royalist movement. For his services, Barras was now named one of the Directory, and took a prominent part in the changes which that body unerwent until Napoleon’s coup d’etat on the 18th Brumaire, which effectually overthrew the power of Barrras and his colleagues. His life, from this date, was, generally speaking, one of retirement. He died in Paris, Jan. 29, 1829. His “Memoirs” appeared in 1895.


George J. Hagar The Standard American Encyclopedia, Volume, 2 (New York: The University Society, Inc., 1916)


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